Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" Review - Written by Jim Herling

It seems like there's an awful lot to say about Exodus: Gods and Kings. For example, there's the controversy over the "whitewashed" main cast (which is admittedly distracting), but I don't want to talk about that. There's also all the hubbub over the glaring historical and even more glaring biblical inaccuracies (both of which are just mind-boggling, especially considering director Ridley Scott had a four-person writing team to work with, consisting of Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, and Steven Zaillian, none of whom had the sense to point out the inaccuracies apparently), but I don't want to talk about those things either. All the controversies, while interesting and worthy of discussion on their own, have little to do with the quality of the movie itself, which is what I'm here to talk about.

And the quality, in this case, is pretty damn bad.

The only thing I can say for Ridley Scott's latest work is that it is a visually stunning movie. Which is no surprise, really; Scott's movies are always treats for the eyes, shot and framed beautifully, with top-notch effects, and this one is no exception. The Red Sea sequence is particularly breathtaking. But, as Jay said towards the end of Clerks, "what's a good plate with nothing on it?"

When it comes to what's on this plate, the answer is precious little. Inconsistence is the least of the plot's sins; for example, the movie is just boring as hell. It has a very similar structure and story to one of Scott's masterpieces, Gladiator (which should be a clue as to just how far afield from the historical narratives the story blunders), but it lacks that film's cohesion, and its action. Action pieces are short and few and far between. Even the Red Sea finale is anticlimactic, boiling down not to an epic battle or even a thrilling chase but a distant standoff between Moses (Christian Bale) and his "brother" Ramses (Joel Edgerton) that is as ponderous and awkward as the rest of their performances. And they're not alone; whitewashing is a far less problem of this cast than their obvious discomfort with the whole production. From Bale and Edgerton down through the line to Ben Kingsley and John Turturro, this is a talented cast having no fun and clearly not putting their heart into their characters. The most glaring cast misstep is Aaron Paul as Joshua, one of Moses' lieutenants. Joshua does nothing but glare and stare, shouting his handful of lines that all consist of one variation or another of "Come on!" or "Let's go!" The swagger that usually makes Paul's performances compelling is nonexistent, and it's a disappointing microcosm of how disappointing the movie is as a whole.

I'm giving Exodus: Gods and Kings one star or of five for cinematography. The rest of the movie is as bad as a plague of locusts.

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